How to Plan Your Branding

We know that your branding is going to be one of the most impactful things you have to fly the flag for your brand. But great branding is a skill, and that is precisely why there are so many specialist companies that work in branding. Companies like Sterling Brands offer a service that creates brands you want to shout about. 

But if you don’t quite have the budget just yet, you can spend your time laying the groundwork for what your brand should look and feel like. 

What is branding?

Many small businesses and freelancers confuse what branding is. Often we equate branding to just the logo, name, and tagline. But branding is a much deeper process that is designed to communicate with your customers on a more meaningful level. 

Your branding will communicate what you do, who you do it for, how you do it, and why you are of value to the people who buy your services or products. 

There is a definition of branding that can go some way to explaining what branding is: 

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (American Marketing Association).

That is a broader idea, but it means the branding isn’t just the physical parts of the product. 

Branding also looks at the concept of invoking specific emotions in order to secure a sale or to build loyalty within the customer base. 

So how do you plan your branding? 

Internal first

What happens inside your business should be reflected on the outside. You need to have a firm understanding of why you do what you do. Many companies will skip over the idea of looking internally for your branding beginnings. But here is where you can build a solid foundation. 

Ask yourself or your team if you have one how they would answer the following questions: 

  • What is the mission
  • What is the vision
  • What is the purpose
  • What are the values

These things can help to build the statement that will be the guide for the rest of what follows. If possible, you can look to build some of these in combination with any audience profiles you have created. 

Target Audience 

Much of what you do will be directed towards a specific audience, and you should be answering to their needs and wants. For your business to grow, it must have something of value for your audience. 

  • What is it you offer them?
  • What is the problem you solve
  • What do they need from you
  • What makes you special 
  • What provokes an emotional response in them?

If you are branded to talk to everyone, then you will end up casting too wide of a net and not communicating with anyone. 


There are going to be many factors that slow your growth or inhibit it entirely – your competition is one of them. You need to have a firm understanding of your competition and what makes them so ‘dangerous.’ 

Look for direct competitors, to begin with, as they will have the same audience pool as you, and you will be fishing for the same people.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be looking to replicate what they do; instead, you should be looking to do it better. So while it is a good idea to take the parts that work – you need to think about what makes you different and better. 

Remember, it isn’t always about who is first to the market; it is about who does it best. 


The two steps before this one, looking at your competition and your audience, will give you a firm idea of where you are on the landscape. But you can further boil these big questions down: 

  • What is it that your audience get from your competitors
  • What do they want more of
  • What do they need more of
  • What should and do they need less off
  • If there was an alternative offering – what would that look like
  • What have they done that you could do better? 

And the most important things are can you save them time and money, and can you solve an issue they have? 


Defining your position in the market can highlight everything that makes your brand shine. This is an integral part of the process because if you don’t spend the time to do it, you might miss out on some vital points that set you apart from your competitors. 

Once you know all of the ways you offer more, you need to decide how you are going to communicate those points. 

What is the personality of your brand, and what are the characteristics? Are you a funny brand? Are you straight-talking and practical? Perhaps you have a formal personality. 

The personality you use behind your communications will make the brand feel more personable. 

Create an entire person using everything you know so far. Who is your brand personality? 

This can take a while to sculpt but can be one of the most important parts of anything you’re going to do in terms of branding. A strong personality will enable you to have a firm tone of voice. 

Tone of Voice

The personality that you build will have a unique tone of voice. The cadence of the words, the words you use, the formal or informal style. 

Do you use GIFS and memes to communicate facts and figures? What is it that your audience needs from the conversations you are going to start? 

The personality you have chosen will be aligned with your audience – in fact, they could almost be one of your audience; that is how refined they are. 

The tone of voice will be the unique characteristic and style of communication you use. 

It needs to be attainable and achievable across all of the platforms that you use and all of the media you produce. 

Not all companies can afford to hire a set of writers to produce content and often use freelancers or content companies. If that should suit you, then it is in your best interests to create a tone of the voice guideline and multiple examples that can be used as guidance. 

Your tone of voice needs to be maintained at all times to ensure there is cohesiveness across your communications. 


Your tone of voice and your personality will now join forces and create the how of your message delivered. 

So you now need to consider what it is you are trying to say. 

One of the most important questions that you need to answer and as fast as possible is the biggest one from potential customers: 

What do I get out of it? 

What you offer should be something that solves a problem for them and adds something to their lifestyle. If you are B2B, then you should be looking to provide and create value. 

You will be shaping how your brand is perceived by answering what they get out of it at all times, with your own unique way of doing so. 

Define what you need to say and the main points that the audience should know and understand about what you do.  

It is only with this site can you dictate and drive the conversation and situate yourself where you need to in the mind of your intended audience. 


Brand storytelling has been a bit of a buzzword for a while, but the truth is a story sells. We love to listen to stories that are emotive and interesting, which is why your brand story can be part of the toolbox you use to be attractive to your audience. 

It shouldn’t be fabricated – and you won’t need to fabricate it if you have made sure to follow the rest of the steps. 

Your story is where you can confirm and cement all of the ideas that your intended audience might have about you. The story has relatable details that build loyalty. 


Everything else until this point has been without a logo or anything truly visible. Now is it time to build your tagline, your logo, and if you didn’t have one before – your name. 

Your logo should be developed with all of the strategic logic that you have used to create the rest of your brand. 

Your identity covers: 

  • Iconography
  • Graphics
  • Images 
  • Style
  • Colors
  • Logo

Each item in the identity assets needs to feel cohesive and that it belongs with the rest of the things. Most of the time, it is beneficial to hand this bit over to a graphic designer so you can get what you need to be done to the highest standard. 

Everything that you have created until this point can start to be pieced together on your social channels, websites, printed media, and most importantly – into a branding file that you keep to be referred to.

And once all of these steps are taken, you can move on to creating a brand strategy that meets your needs.